Kamaru Usman silenced the critics once again with another powerful performance at UFC 261, not just beating Jorge Masvidal off a full camp, but knocking “Gamebred” out cold with a crushing hook cross early in the second round.
“This one had a little extra on it,” Usman declared in his post fight interview with Megan Olivi. “He gave me that little extra grittiness that I needed. He pushed me, I had to go harder and harder in training. I’m just elated, I’m just ecstatic. I can’t believe we’re at this moment right now and I’ve turned the page and closed that chapter.”
As good of a performance as it was, Usman says he felt a bit out of it at the start of the fight.
“I felt a little sluggish in the back and I didn’t want to just warm up too much,” he revealed. “That was a thing for me in the past, I started too slow. So I just wanted to be perfectly at the right moment. And it’s hard to decide when that right moment is, but we found it. In the first round, we were still getting into the fight. And then in the second round … we found it.”
Usman was widely mocked by Masvidal and “Gamebred” supporters leading up to the fight for his cautious approach to their first fight and Kamaru’s supposed lack of punching power. “The Nigerian Nightmare” made Masvidal eat those words.
“All these guys are sitting here running their mouths saying, ‘He doesn’t have punching power, he doesn’t have this or that’ … at the end of the day, I’m still getting better,” he said. “I’m starting to have fun with this right now. And when you start to have fun with what you’re doing, the sky’s the limit.”
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As for what’s next? UFC President, Dana White, repeatedly declared that Colby Covington is the current No. 1 contender and next up for Usman. But with just one win over Tyron Woodley on Covington’s record since the last time Usman beat him, it sounds like Usman isn’t all that impressed or interested.
“I owe my daughter a vacation,” he said. “This girl has let me miss five, six weeks in a row to go to Colorado to prepare and train for fights. It’s very tough for me as a father not to be there every day and seeing her. So that’s my main focus right now, I don’t want to think about a fight, I don’t want to worry about a fight. We’ll see next week. Maybe that’ll change.”
“I have finished my last three opponents. I’ve finished them all,” he said. “So right now I just need to take some time and just continue to train and get better. But these guys gotta show me something. Because right now I’m the champion and I”m the most active person in the division. These guys can’t just wait around and wait for me to call their number. They need to show me something.
“I’ve fought any and everybody they put in front of me, never said no,” he concluded. “These guys ducked me for years but I got here and I haven’t ducked anyone. And so, like I said, this is like a track meet. I’m so far ahead of these guys I’m coming around the track and I’m coming around with a vengeance.”